I.R.A.T.E.'s Erik Ulrich: Project Independent Tour
On Tuesday, April 18, the metal act I.R.A.T.E. will be appearing at Torrance, California's Tower Records, celebrating their new album release entitled "Brothers of the Same Struggle", which will be a 2-cd set, featuring a compilation of twenty unsigned bands on the nationwide Project Independent Tour. This summer, with the support of MySpace, Jagermeister Music and Tower Records, I.R.A.T.E. will be embarking onto the nation's largest independent music campaign ever. I am so pleased to have had my questions answered by their lead singer, Erik Ulrich.
Rocket: So I see I.R.A.T.E. stands for Infinite Rebellion Against The Establishment and you guys are hooked up with Project Independent. Obviously this band is all about not conforming to the corporate music business, right? Why?
Erik: For starters, we ARE Project Independent… and we are using Project Independent to create our own way of doing business. We have several years of experience that has included falling flat on our faces. We’ve been burned at every level by everyone that we’ve come in contact with…. Labels, promoters, venues, you name it. It seems like the only people you can count on are the other bands, the guys that understand just how hard it is on the road. The cool thing about Project Independent is that we are in control, so if things go wrong we have no one to blame but ourselves. We’re totally cool with that.Rocket: Right on, bro. When did I.R.A.T.E. first form as a band? And please give us a quick rundown of all the band members.
Erik: The original line-up formed in ’95, but we’ve gone thru some pretty major changes since then. The original line-up consisted of Edgar Gonzalez on guitar, Chris Lafferman on bass and Sean Hutto on drums. After we recorded our first album, we felt that we needed to add a second guitarist, so we added Clint Devlin for our first tour. After the tour Clint went back to Michigan, and Edgar was replaced by Rudy Hewlett. A little while after that, Chris and Sean quit and Sean O’Connor and Jason Berglund came onboard. Sean fuckin rocked but had some tendonitis shit going on, and he was in pain all of the time. He knew he couldn’t play but wanted to stay involved, so our manager hooked him up. Eric Buell replaced Sean and the rest is history. So yeah… this bands gone thru some major changes. I think as kids, we were all subject to certain misconceptions and ill-conceived notions. We all felt like things were going to be given to us, and when things weren’t as easy as we thought they’d be, certain members decided that this wasn’t the life for them. You have to have passion and desire to do this. I mean, Ramen noodles and potato chip sandwiches… come on man, who does that?Rocket: I.R.A.T.E. has their second album release set for April 18th, entitled "Brothers of the Same Struggle", which will be a 2-cd set, featuring a compilation of twenty unsigned bands on the nationwide Project Independent Tour. Can you first tell us more about what we can expect from the new I.R.A.T.E. material.
Erik: (Laughs) A lot heavier. More “rooted” metal. Brutal. More attitude, and more aggressive. We’re a different band than we were. Our music has evolved and our band has matured. Lyrically, I am much more direct. I made damn sure that I addressed everyone who’s ever pissed me off.Rocket: I really dig the song Traitors, bro, What is this song about?
Erick: Ah Traitors…. 2 nasty verses followed by 1 big “cheerful chant of unity”. The first verse was written for all my ex-band members... those who chose to puss-out rather than step up. The second verse is a direct response to a song written about us. Ever since we started this shit we’ve been going at it with this band in New York named Irate. It’s this big trademark thing that’s been going back and forth for years. We own the trademark… they claim that they’ve been a band longer… back and forth, back and forth. There’s been shit talking and death threats and all kinds of stupid shit. Anyway, they wrote a song called Vendetta and posted it on their myspace page. It straight up called us out… calling us “mall-metal made for some bitches”. This is my response. You want some? Come and get it you fucking pussies.Rocket: I.R.A.T.E. is one of the few metalcore bands around today that seem to truly get it right. So many hardcore metal acts think that this genre is going out of style and are starting to commercialize their sound to be accepted by everyone, adding too much harmony to the damn chorus. It's so refreshing to hear an act that won't budge like this band and keeps it true to the genre no matter what. How do you feel about these metalcore bands that sell-out and say that this kind of music is a short-lived thing?
Erik: I’m not big on genres and categories. People are always quick to label you. Emo, screamo, metalcore…It’s all just heavy music, and there are great bands in every genre. Just do what’s true to you.Rocket: So on Tuesday, April 18, I.R.A.T.E.'s going to celebrate the nationwide release by appearing at the Torrance, California Tower Records store from 7pm to 8pm. Are you guys signing autographs and taking pictures for fans who buy the new release?
Erik: Yeah… We’ll do that too. Man… we’re just going for the party! We’re expecting a few hundred kids that don’t get many opportunities to catch a live show. This about a bunch of friends from the hood getting together for a huge tailgate party. If we sign some cds, that’ll be cool too.Rocket: I see the first leg of the 2006 Project Independent Tour will begin on Thursday, April 27 at the Whisky a Go-Go in Hollywood, California. It'll be I.R.A.T.E. and Grain, correct? Who else is on this bill?
Erik: We always play the Whisky…. that’s Home!!! And when we play there we usually rent out the room so that we can do it our way. We pick the bands, show times… everything. This will be one of the best club shows you’ll see all summer. Enthraller is the opening band. They’re speed metal and I’ve known several of those guys for years. Now they’re all in a band together…. crazy! Hostility is 2nd. They’re our Jager brothers from the Bay area and this will probably be their last show before getting signed. Demolition Pit is 3rd, and these guys are longtime buddies. Grain goes on right before us. They’re from Dallas and we’ve done a ton of touring with them. We’ll do close to 100 shows with Grain this year and I’m sure that everyone of them will be quite eventful. The closing band is Putrid Faith. These kids are young and ambitious, plus they’re from the hood.Rocket: Let's get deeper into the bands that are on the compilation disc. Is it all metalcore bands or does it offer some heavy music diversity?
Erik: Very diverse! Something for everybody. If you just like emo or just like hardcore, then this ain’t for you. But if you like a little bit of everything, then you’ll dig it.Rocket: Yeah, great way to define what I.R.A.T.E. does, man. That's why I dig you guys so much. It's so hard to categorize you. Tell me more about your musical background, Erik. When did you first start singing in bands?
Erik: I started as a bass player when I was 13, then I started singing and playing bass. Finally I just said fuck it, and concentrated on singing.Rocket: Who are some of your main vocal influences?
Erik: I don’t know that I necessarily have “vocal” influences. I’m a strange character. I like Danny Elfman and Faith No More.Rocket: Okay, back to the new I.R.A.T.E. album. Where did you guys record it?
Erik: Cameltoe Studios in Bellflower. It’s actually Rudy’s house that has been converted to a fully digital recording studio. It’s nice because it gives us all the time we need on a project. We always run across these bands that spent a ton of money to record a piece of shit. We try to inspire them to do it on their own.Rocket: Jeff Totten of On Stage Management, who used to be the singer for Raising Cain, handles you guys. What has he meant to you and the band so far?
Erik: (Sings “Visions of Suicide) Jeff’s been there from the beginning, side by side with me the whole way. He accomplished so much with Raising Cain, and he’s brought all of that knowledge to this project. He’s definitely the 5th member of this band.Rocket: So who are some of the other bands that will be appearing on the Project Independent tour?
Erik: Oh man…. There’s like 50 or 60 bands on this thing. All the bands on the comp are playing at least one show, and we’ve already played with most of them. Should be fun.Rocket: Go ahead and send a shoutout to all of the biggest I.R.A.T.E. supporters.
Erik: Fans, fans and fans… the street teamers, and myspace friends that constantly tell others about us. We have a bunch of endorsers and sponsors that constantly hook us up and they deserve a shoutout as well, but at the end of the day it’s all about the fans.
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